Saturday, 05 December 2020

More on the Revolutionary Party

Not only does the party not include in its ranks all the individuals that constitute the proletarian class, but not even the majority of them. It includes the minority that acquires the collective preparation and maturity, in terms of both theory and militancy, corresponding to the general and final vision of the historical movement worldwide and over the whole course of time from the formation of the proletariat to its revolutionary victory. The issue of individual consciousness is not the basis for forming the party: not only is it impossible for every proletarian to be conscious or, even less, gain a cultural mastery of the class doctrine; it is even impossible for each individual militant and cannot even be guaranteed amongst the leaders.

The basis consists solely in the organic unity of the party. Just as we refuse any concept of individual action or action by a mass of individuals not bound by a precise organizational tissue, we refuse that of the party as a group of sages, who are enlightened or conscious; this must be replaced by the concept of a tissue and a system which, within the proletarian class, organically carries out the function of seeing through the revolutionary task in all its aspects and all its complex phases.”

From “Fudamental Theses of the Party” (December 1951; Part II: Task of the communist party)

Our claim that the work of the party must necessarily be impersonal and anonymous is often confused (even by those who maintain they are close to our current) with the sort of work and organization in which a “chief” directs a number of “little soldiers” lacking a soul or an individual nature – a sort of “sect” with its more or less truculent “gurus” and its “followers” who are always “obedient” and “disciplined”. In other words, a transposition into the revolutionary class party of the worst forms of organization that have always thrived in bourgeois society, its institutions and parties, through lodges and masonic organizations, secret sects, etc. Just as there has always been the attempt to attribute to communism the worst forms of life of bourgeois society (last in order, in this counterrevolutionary time, the wonders of former “real socialism”!), the same happens for the actual organizational form of the party.

We are certainly not amazed by this!

In contrast to these “blameworthy” forms of organization, from right to left a great show is made of democracy, freedom to criticize, debates between the majority and the opposition, various forms of parties and various prominent personalities, etc. A thick layer of democracy which, as communism has always declared, actually hides the blind obedience to the laws of Capital – laws which then, in certain specific situations of economic and social crisis, as has always happened and as we continue to see, make it necessary to remove the embarrassing, liberal and democratic mask, to show the true face of the ruling bourgeois class: the totalitarian, ferocious, repressive, military one. 

In the party’s work, constant reference is made to the proletarian class struggle and to the realization of the historical communist programme. In its work, it cannot fail to attract elements that are instinctively sensitive to this fight and this perspective. Inside it, the capacities of those who approach it are not “annulled” but made available for collective political work as a function of that programme. 

The organ and tool, the arm that has to be prepared and equipped, not only for revolutionary situations, is the collective organ of the party. We wrote in the “Tesi sulla tattica del P.C.d’I” (Theses on the Tactics of the Communist Party of Italy), Rome, March 1922: “The integration of all the elementary drives into unified action shows itself in two main factors: one is critical consciousness, from which the party derives its programme, the other is the will which is expressed in the tool through which the party acts, its disciplined and centralized organization. It would be wrong to consider these two factors, of consciousness and will, as faculties that can be obtained or demanded from individuals, since they can only be obtained by integrating the work of many individuals in a unified, collective organism.”

It is the need and demand to prepare this organization that must always be placed in the foreground. Comrades who work towards this goal do not feel that they have “sacrificed” anything in “subordinating” their own personality to the demands of the party’s work and collective action. To the extent that, through the party’s work, he or she is able to avoid making a myth of himself (individualism), of the leaders or of the abstract, formal party itself, “already perfect and infallible”, a comrade does not feel that his/her individual nature has been sacrificed but sees it strictly in the context of the party’s work, contributing to extending the latter or strengthening it.

The task of making the party fit for the great achievements set out in the historical programme is extremely difficult. It cannot be done by waiting for “great leaders” or “polyfunctional directive centres”. It requires the political work of each individual comrade, each according to his/her own own abilities or qualities. It is possible to be compact and centralized not by means of established discipline or worse still that imposed from above, but through the capacity and ability to work practically and collectively on the achievement of the historical programme.

Our comrades affirmed that this was the party’s function ever since they opposed this method of work and organization to the one that came into being within the Communist International, in its very first congresses. As against a type of international organization in which, unfortunately and despite everything, the party was still the expression of the work and decisions of a “Russian centre”, starting from the document “The Tactics of the Communist International in the Project of Theses presented by the P.C.d’I at the IVth World Congress (Moscow, November 1922)”, the P.C.d’I opposed that of a “centre” that would be truly functional and carry out its work of political direction in the best possible way, purely as the expression of a party with super-national, and thus worldwide and anti-federational, tasks.

In introducing the “Theses after 1945”, we thus wrote: “In actual fact, the issue of organic centralism, as opposed to democratic centralism, is anything but … a matter of terminology. In its contradictory nature, the latter formula surely reflects, in its noun, the aim of the single, worldwide party as we have always wished it to be, whilst, in the adjective, it reflects a situation where the parties are still heterogeneous in terms of historical formation and basic doctrine, and amongst them the supreme judge sits (not as the tip of a pyramid, connected to its base by a single, homogeneous thread passing from one to the other and back again with no interruption) in the form of the Executive Committee or some other body with a similar name which, not being linked in turn by that single thread, but free to take alternate and varying decisions according to the vicissitudes, ‘situations’, high and low points of social conflict, periodically – as in the tradition of democracy, with which it is compatible – at times turns to the farce of ‘consultations’ with its periphery (certain, or almost certain, to win the support of a plebiscite), at others to the arms of intimidation and ‘ideological terror’ – in the case of the [past] Communist International protected by the physical power and ‘secular arm’ of the State. Instead, our vision sees the party as having characteristics of organic centralism, since it is not a ‘part’, albeit the most advanced, of the proletarian class, but an organ of it, fusing all its elementary drives and all its militants, whatever direction they may come from. And it is such, because it possesses the theory and a body of principles, a programme, that reach beyond the limits of today to express the historical trend, the final objective and the way of working of the proletarian and communist generations of the past, present and future, extending beyond borders of nationality and state to embody the interests of revolutionary wage-earners the world over; it is so, we should add, also by virtue of a forecast, at least broadly speaking, of how historical situations will proceed and thus of its ability to establish a body of directives and tactical measures.”

The theoretical elaboration of new phenomena and events, a more detailed indication of tactics, forecasting of situations, interventions in proletarian battles, are and can only be tasks and functions of the whole party, of all comrades. The party fights in its ranks the presence of “little soldiers” from the barracks or “little brothers” from the convents. There is no need for the names of militants to be displayed as though the party were a conglomeration of individuals. Constant, collective work is required on the tasks to be carried out along the lines of the historical programme developed as far back as 1848 – work that will take the different capacities and qualities of every comrade and during which “mistakes” may be made, which will then only be overcome and corrected by reinforcing our collective work. For this work there are no organizational recipes, either of an authoritarian or of a democratic nature.

Again in the “Theses after 1945”, we also wrote: “If the party possesses this theoretical and practical homogeneity (and the possession of this is not guaranteed indefinitely but is something to be defended tooth and nail and, if necessary, recovered each time it is lost), the organization of it, which is at the same time its discipline, arises and develops organically out of the single stem of the programme and practical action; the various forms it takes and the hierarchy of its organs are an expression of the party’s perfect adherence to the complex of its functions, none excluded.”");">1");">1All the texts quoted, from the “Tesi” or from the “Premesse” to them, are from the volume In difesa della continuità del programma comunista, Edizioni Il programma comunista, Milan 1989, and are also available on our website

International Communist Party

Il Programma Comunista

Kommunistisches Programm

The internationalist


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